Filling up at the pump on your way home or on your way to work may not seem like a luxury for those living in cities, but for hundreds living in Port Renfrew, getting gas is a trial on its own.

But that changed Thursday with the opening of the community’s first gas station in nearly two decades.

“It’s a really historic day for the [Pacheedaht First] Nation and for the community because it’s been a good 20 years since there’s been a gas service available,” said Karl Ablack, Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce Vice President.

It’s a celebration for local drivers who have had to drive at least an hour, a two-hour round trip, to fill up. The nearest gas stations are about 100 kilometres away in Duncan or Sooke.

“It’s been a rough 20 years with no gas,” said Pacheedaht First Nation Chief Jeff Jones, “Relying on tiny tanks or borrowing gas off neighbours”

The paramedic unit chief for the area, William Toulmin, says it’s a major relief for local for responders.

“Ideally as an emergency vehicle we want to be as close to full as we can at all time,” said Toulmin Thursday, “Before as the unit chief, the service had to pay my time and mileage to go all the way to town to fill up the reserve jerry cans bring them about here for our vehicles and for our station generator, now we’re across the street.”

It’s not only a convenience for residents but also for the growing number of tourists who visit the area.

“A lot of people stop by and ask me where’s the gas station? Now I tell them and show them where it’s at,” said one resident.

The Tourism Industry in Port Renfrew has boomed since the province built the Pacific Marine Route in 2009.

“We’ve just seen the amount of traffic coming on the circle route [increase] over the last four or five years. There’s a demand for this,” added Ablack.

The station was initiated and completed by the Pacheedaht First Nation.

“It’ll employ our residents, keep the pay cheque coming in. It’s progress,” said Jerry Tworivers, an elder with the Pacheedaht First Nation.

The community is confident this will bring in, even more, tourists knowing they won’t have to go far to fill up.

The gas station is located on Cerantes Road in Port Renfrew.

Isabelle Raghem